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Departmental Public Relations

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 28 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the answer to the right hon. Member for Devizes of 25 November 2008, Official Report, column 1218W, on departmental public relations, if he will list each of the external public firms on which the £5.3 million of expenditure was incurred in 2007-08; and for what reasons in-house communications staff could not provide the requisite services. (250570)

The public relations (PR) agencies employed by the Department during 2007-08 were:

Euro RSCG;

Fishburn Hedges Boys Williams;

The Forster Company;



Munro and Forster;

The Red Consultancy; and

Trimedia Harrison Cowley.

PR companies are employed to support a range of marketing and policy initiatives including major public health behaviour change programmes such as tobacco control, sexual health, flu immunisation, hand and respiratory hygiene and drug and alcohol harm reduction campaigns. In addition to providing specialist knowledge of a wide range of media through which the Department needs to communicate with specific target audiences, they also provide extensive creative input to communications programmes. PR companies are a highly flexible and cost-effective resource as they can be commissioned for the duration of each individual project thus reducing the need for increasing internal headcount.

The total expenditure on external PR during 2007-08 (£5.3 million) includes VAT and both fees and costs. Typically costs may include producing materials and newsletters, creation of content for online media, advertorials, photography, research, creation of toolkits for stakeholders and costs incurred for regional activity such as stakeholder or media roadshows.